The Human Computer: Shakuntala Devi

Shakunthala Devi

When we set off to meet this inspirational persona, we were thanking our stars for this opportunity. When we entered the home, we were not surprised to see the framed photographsof her with Indira Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Sachin Tendulkar, KapilDev, Brian Lara, A P J Abdul Kalam … She asks your year, month and date of birth and tells you the day you were born instantaneously. No umm’s, no urr’s and certainly no errors! This lady was fighting poor health, yet the enthusiasm was never faltering. A Guinness record holder, astrologer, numerologist, author and mathematician; presenting to you all- the STAR to inspire you to kick-off this New Year is the human computer, Shakuntala Devi. (Read Shakuntala Devi Biography)

Struggling Childhood

At the age of three, I had come in front of the audience, all thanks to my father’s job in the circus. Then, at that tender age, my uncanny ability to answer complex addition, multiplication and division questions in a flash was displayed as a showstopper in the show. I rose to fame at a very young age, but my childhood was not a happy one. I had become the sole bread winner of my family and the responsibility was a huge one for a young child.Shankutla devi

My father left the circus and took me on road shows that displayed my unique ability at number crunching. At the age of six, I gave my first major show at the University of Mysore and this was the beginning of my marathon of public performances!

Challenge Computers!

Believe it or not, I have never learnt to use an abacus. In 1977, I received standing ovation from an audience of learned mathematicians when I extracted the 23rd root of a 201-digit number in 50 seconds flat! A high powered and sophisticated computer took 62 seconds – and that too after days of programming! I consider this ability as God’s gift to me…

Maths, Astrology, Books…

I’ll tell you how this gift happened. I lived in Tiruchirappalli, South India, where there is a famous temple to Ganesha. I decided to make that Ganesha my friend. He has shown me the way. Astrology and mathematics are so analogous.But to make global predictions, one has to be aware of what is going on around the world and study the background.

I derive a lot of happiness on seeing the success of my books. I have tried to make it simple, interesting and diverse. From ‘How to make maths easy’ to ‘Puzzles to puzzle you’, long journey indeed.I have also authored many books on cookery!


I have three words for my readers here- ‘Believe in Yourself’. You are ought to build the confidence and the ability. Understand the numbers. You need not be genius with numbers. The interest should help you come off the fear of maths. It’s not an ability that you have when you are born. Inculcate the taste towards puzzles and maths, everything will look easy.

The purpose of my life is to make everybody, especially children, enjoy Maths as an affable and joyful experience. I have started an institution in HSR layout, Bangalore. It is a seat of learning for mathematics and will be my humble contribution to the world. It is a very special Institute where mathematics is taught as a very special subject. At the same time, the Institute also delves into the secrets of Vedic mathematics. I want the Institution to have a very spiritual backbone.

In India, I am surprised to see the progress that has been made. We have power in us. I hope in the future, our administrators will give up fighting among themselves like they have done in past. It yields no result at the end of the day. They need to develop those insights that will take our nation to leaps and bounds. I repeat, we have that power in us and we can progress in a much better way! (KYS) wishes all it’s readers a very happy and prosperous 2013. We look forward for your continued support and we cherish your proud association with us. We promise to bring you more inspiring stories and make 2013- inspiring, impacting and enchanting!

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KnowYourStar is a NGO working in education sector leveraging technology, storytelling and volunteerism. Our passion to profession interactive tool helps students unlock their true potential and leads them to explore viable future options through stories of role models & career roadmap.To support rural/underprivileged students, KnowYourStar proudly runs Mentor India. We have published our own curriculum in a book called – Mitra Pustak.